2010 NFL Divisional Playoffs
RAVENS (13-4) AT STEELERS (12-4)
Both AFC playoff games this weekend are the third meeting between bitter division rivals. As good as Jets/Pats has been of late, Baltimore/Pittsburgh has been better. Seven of the last eight games between these teams have been decided by 7 points or less and this year’s playoff installment shouldn’t be much difference. The Ravens manhandled an upstart Kansas City team in the wild card matchup, while the Steelers are coming off a bye and welcoming back a healthy and rested Troy Polamalu. The teams split their regular season games, but the Steelers won the game in which they had Ben Roethlisberger. I like both teams a lot, but trust Big Ben more to extend plays and make big throws than Joe Flacco.
Steelers 27, Ravens 24
PACKERS (11-6) AT FALCONS (13-3)
The Packers and Falcons have already played once this year in Atlanta while both teams were mostly healthy. And the Falcons won. But in the rematch I like Green Bay. The Falcons winning formula all year was to play 60 full minutes of smart, disciplined football and catch a few breaks. They followed that plan perfectly in their matchup against Green Bay in November and pulled off a last-minute victory. Unfortunately, I don’t think that they can count on a goal-line fumble and 344 passing yards accounting for just one solitary touchdown the second time around. The Packers are a better offensive a defensive team than the Falcons, but the Falcons have stayed far more healthier this season. Nobody is playing better than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will ride his arm to the NFC Championship game and perhaps further.
Packers 38, Falcons 20
SEAHAWKS (8-9) AT BEARS (12-4)
Nobody in the country truly believed that Seattle would miraculously upend the defending champs last week, but a smidgen of me isn’t too surprised that Seattle proved to be a tough environment for the Saints. This week, the worst NFC playoff team ever has to go on the road – where they were 2-6 this year but one of the wins was at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Bears however are far more developed offensively than they were when Seattle first came to call. Mike Martz has crafted the offense into a unit that plays to its strengths and I’m picking convincingly against the Seahawks for a second consecutive week.
Bears 31, Seahawks 14
JETS (12-5) AT PATRIOTS (14-2)
While comparisons to the 16-0 2007 Patriots are obviously unfounded, this is still a very talented New England club that embarrassed the Jets 45-3 on Monday Night Football just over a month ago. Sanchez has played poorly in Gillette Stadium, throwing seven picks in two games whereas Tom Brady is on an incredible 12 game run. The Patriots dominance has always been directly tied to turnover success, and I believe if the Jets can win that battle, they have a very good chance at pulling off a huge upset. Unfortunately, Tom Brady has completely stopped turning the ball over and has received superb protection since Pro Bowl lineman Logan Mankins returned from a holdout.
Patriots 27, Jets 21